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Christian Dell

Christian Dell

*  1893 Hanau
† 1974 Wiesbaden

Christian Dell, metal artist and industrial designer, counts among the lesser-known Bauhaus artists, despite his ground-breaking oeuvre. Born the son of a locksmith in Offenbach in 1893, he had a great impact as a teacher on the curriculum of the Weimar metal workshop. He had done an apprenticeship as a silversmith in Hanau before and had also attended the drawing academy, followed by a stay at the Weimar School of Applied Art. Henry van de Velde, director of this institution, coined Christian Dell's early works with his organic-flowing use of forms, a feature that can also be observed on Dell's later works.
The artist applied at the Bauhaus in 1921, where he began working as a work master as of April 1, 1922; following Klee and Schlemmer, László Moholy-Nagy was at his side as master of forms as of 1923. His teaching activities left hardly any time for his own art, a bulky pot for punch that has hardly any notion of Bauhaus art and a strictly geometrically arranged wine mug in silver are among the most renown. An oval tea ball and a silver ring for Max Krehan (1924) are other works that were made during this period.
Christian Dell decided to stay in Weimar when the Bauhaus, along with the metal workshop, relocated to Dessau in 1925. He continued working at the follow-up institution. However, his path led him to Frankfurt just a year later, where he became director of the art school's metal workshop, where he was mot only employed as director, but also as "master of forms". He created more own works in Frankfurt, mostly executed in silver, such as the elegant samovar, based on the gently flowing contours of a compressed bowl (1928). Christian Dell's soft organic style, which was a clear contrast to the Dessau Bauhaus style, seems traditional and vanguard at the same time, already hinting at the use of forms in the 1950s.
Christian Dell works a lot on lamp design in Frankfurt, which will become a recurring theme in his work. His popular designs were frequently presented in the magazine "Das Neue Frankfurt" and the style sheets of the "Frankfurter Register", which facilitated spreading his ideas. The lamp series "Rondella" (1927/28) or the "Dell-Lampe Type K" (1929) count among his most renown designs, his name was always part of the object's name. The standardized reflector in paraboloidal shape with cylindrical cover became a characteristic feature of his lamps, the reflector was diagonally cut at the bottom, unlike those that had been developed at the Dessau Bauhaus priory.
Christian Dell's most successful lamps come from the "idell"-series, that he designed after he had been dismissed by the National Socialists in 1933. They were produced by the company Gebr. Kaiser & Co. The timeless "idell"-lamps are still produced today - the desk lamp from this series was the mother of all desk lamps for decades.
Christian Dell, who was often attested a traditionalist style, shows to be quite modern and experimental regardless of this criticism: He tried to develop a service made of plastic as early as in the early 1930s, long before Wilhelm Wagenfeld or Wolfgang Tümpel would take on the new material.
Christian Dell does not manage to reappear in the public's focus after World War II, he dies in Wiesbaden in 1974.

Cf.: Weber, Klaus: "Sachliche Bauart. Höchste Qualitätsarbeit". Christian Dell als Silberschmied, Lehrer und Gestalter; in: Die Metallwerkstatt am Bauhaus. Ex. cat. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Berlin 1992, pp. 56-65.